A Special Bench of the Supreme Court , led by Justice Arun Mishra, on Wednesday ordered the CBI Director, the Delhi Police Commissioner and the Intelligence Bureau chief to assemble at the judges’ chambers for a confidential meeting on the claims made by an advocate that the sexual allegations levelled against Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi is a part of a “larger conspiracy” to frame him (Chief Justice) in a false case and make him resign.
Explaining why the three top officials have been called, Justice Mishra said “this is not just an inquiry, this is something more... We will not reveal anything. This will be kept totally a secret.”
The Bench, also comprising Justices Rohinton Nariman and Deepak Gupta, ordered the Delhi Police to provide lawyer Utsav Singh Bains "full protection" so that no one approaches him to either influence or threaten him and the evidence he has with him of the conspiracy afoot is kept safe.
Mr. Bains, in his affidavit filed on April 22, said he was approached by a man who identified himself to be a relative of the former apex court employee who has levelled the charge against the CJI. This man, Mr. Bains claimed, offered him up to Rs. 1.5 crore to file the false case. The person, however, turned evasive when asked by Mr. Bains to be specific about his relationship with the woman. The lawyer said he had reliable information that a larger plot was up against the CJI in which “fixers” in a “cash for judgment racket” were involved.
Mr. Bains went on to file a second affidavit in the hearing. He said he had more crucial evidence and wanted to file another affidavit.
Justice Mishra told him to give a handwritten affidavit and not a typed one so that there is not even the remote possibility of the information being leaked by the typist. “We do not want evidence to be destroyed,” he said.
Justice Mishra, speaking for the Bench after reading Mr. Bains' fresh affidavit, said if the contents of the affidavits were true, "then this is really very disturbing".
The judge went on to observe how Chief Justice Gogoi had been leading the court with a sense of courage and independence, and how his independent nature must be irking certain quarters.
Justice Mishra referred to the recent dismissal of court staffers Manav Sharma and Tapan Chakravarthy for doctoring a court order in a contempt case between Anil Ambani and Ericsson in this context.
"This had been happening, no CJI had the courage to take a decision. But this CJI is taking action after action after action. This was a case of collusion by a Supreme Court employee... This CJI is very independent," Justice Mishra observed orally. “No CJI had the courage to take action.”
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said a special investigation team (SIT) should be constituted by the court to investigate the contents of Mr. Bains' affidavit.
"Even if there is an element of truth in the affidavit, the allegations in it should be investigated thoroughly... Let an SIT be constituted by Your Lordships’ and let the investigation be conducted under My Lords' supervision," he said.
Mr. Bains said he had “specific information” on how the “larger conspiracy” was planned.
He objected to any possible move to involve the CBI in the case. “The CBI is used a political tool... I want a judicial inquiry. I have brought all this evidence before the court as an officer of the court. I have no other interest in this," he submitted.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising, who was in the courtroom, said she wanted to intervene as she too has a “stake in the independence of the judiciary”.
But both Justices Mishra and Nariman asked her to desist. “We will ask you when we need your help,” Justice Mishra told her.
The Bench is scheduled to meet again in the day.
Criticism of CJI action
This development comes even as the Supreme Court and Chief Justice Gogoi are facing severe criticism from within and outside the legal community for the way they reacted to the publication of the allegations made against the CJI.
The CJI was even criticised for acting as a 'judge in his own cause' by presiding over a Bench on April 20 to hear the allegations against himself. His remarks on the alleged criminal past of the woman also drew adverse public opinion.